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After a car accident: what to do and not do

Every year, millions of people in the U.S. are involved in motor vehicle accidents. Whether an individual is a driver or passenger, being involved in a crash or collision is often a terrifying experience that may leave an individual feeling confused and disoriented. Consequently, a driver may fail to take the appropriate steps to ensure for the safety of everyone involved and to preserve his or her rights to, if necessary, take future legal action.

First and foremost, never flee or leave the scene of an accident. After checking on the physical status of any passengers in one's own vehicle, it's important to also check on any and all other driver(s) and passengers who were involved in a crash. An ambulance should be called to attend to any injured vehicle occupants as well as the police who will investigate the accident and file an official report.


Depending on the circumstances of an accident, an individual may believe that either he or she or another driver is at fault. Regardless of who is at fault, it's important to avoid engaging in any hostile exchanges with other drivers or passengers. Likewise, drivers should never apologize or verbally express that they were at fault in an accident.

While waiting for the police to arrive, drivers should exchange personal identifying information as well as driver's license and vehicle information. In cases where any other driver, passenger or pedestrian witnessed the accident; it's important to get a witness' name, phone number and address. If possible, it's best when a witness can remain at the accident scene until police arrive to provide a formal statement.

Once a driver is cleared by the police to leave an accident scene, he or she should report the accident and file an auto insurance accident claim. When speaking with one's insurance company, drivers are advised to answer all questions truthfully. Omitting or lying about important details, like running a red light, can result in an insurer dropping coverage.

Anyone who has been involved in an accident is also advised to see a doctor and to keep detailed notes and records about one's injuries and related costs. In cases where an individual believes that another driver was negligent in causing or contributing to the accident, an attorney can assist in pursing the recovery of compensation.

Source:, "After a Car Accident: First Steps," June 25, 2015

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